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This is a quote of an article by Anthony Clark reproduced with permission

by Anthony Clark

I read a interesting article by Anthony Clark, The Business Editor from http://www.gainesville.com/article/20100209/ARTICLES/2091002. The article is about a class action for damages following the potential loss of client data from some stolen laptops. I sent him an email and requested permission to quote it on this website. He owns the copyright. Here it is :

By Anthony Clark
Business editor

Published: Tuesday, February 9, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, February 8, 2010 at 11:28 p.m.
( page all of 2 )

The theft of two company laptops from AvMed Health Plans' corporate offices in Gainesville might have compromised the personal information of more than 200,000 current and former subscribers, as well as their dependents, the company has announced.

The personal information includes names, addresses, phone numbers, Social Security numbers and protected health information. The random way the data was listed, however, makes the risk of identity theft very low, the company said.

The thefts were discovered on Dec. 11 at the corporate office at 4300 N.W. 89th Blvd.

A company security employee reported at 4:20 p.m. that day that two Dell laptops that had been locked in a conference room after staff left at 5 p.m. on Dec. 10 were missing. The employee said the door had remained locked during each security check and when staff returned at 8:30 a.m. on Dec. 11, Alachua County Sheriff's Office spokesman Art Forgey said.

The employee told the Sheriff's Office the only people with keys are security staff and the cleaning crew.

When asked if the thefts were an inside job, AvMed spokeswoman Cochita Ruiz-Topinka said, "We don't want to jump to any conclusions."

Attempts to locate the laptops have been unsuccessful, and the investigation remains open.

On Dec. 23, AvMed determined that data on one of the laptops might not have been encrypted properly.

It announced the breach in a release dated Feb. 5.

The delay in announcing the breach was to avoid hindering the investigation and to set up identity protection services, the company said.

There are currently no known reports of identity theft, but Ruiz-Topinka said AvMed will have a better idea once members start registering for identity protection.

Potentially at risk are 80,000 current and 128,000 former subscribers dating back to April 2003, as well as their dependents.

Ruiz-Topinka said the information is from various plans, including Medicare members in South Florida and commercial clients throughout the state.

The company began notifying them by mail as early as Monday and has arranged for 24 months of free identity protection. Affected subscribers can register with Debix Identity Protection Network, which can tell callers if their information was potentially exposed. Subscribers can call Debix at 877-263-7998 (TTY 877-442-8633).

AvMed also has implemented additional security procedures and training.

"We will do all we can to work with our members whose personal information may have been compromised and help them work through the process," Ed Hannum, president and chief operating officer, said in a release. "We regret that this incident has occurred, and we are committed to prevent future occurrences."

This article was quoted by permission of the author. It shows the importance of Laptop Security Software in the prevention of identity theft.

Jack Taggerty

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